Police raid Al Jazeera Malaysia office over migrant report

In this file photo taken on Friday, July 10, 2020, Australian Al Jazeera journalist, reporter/senior producer Drew Ambrose, right, leaves the Bukit Aman police headquarters after being questioned by the Malaysian police over a documentary about the country's arrests of undocumented migrants, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP)
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Updated 05 August 2020

Police raid Al Jazeera Malaysia office over migrant report

  • Trendle described the raid on the Malaysia bureau and the seizing of computers as a “troubling escalation” in the authorities’ crackdown on media freedom

KUALA LUMPUR: Police raided the Al Jazeera Malaysia bureau on Tuesday and seized computers as part of a probe into the network’s documentary “Locked up in Malaysia’s Lockdown,” which highlighted the country’s treatment of undocumented migrant workers during the curfew.
Three broadcast centers in the capital belonging to Al Jazeera, Astro and Unifi TV were searched, Federal Police Criminal Investigation Department Director CP Huzir Mohammed said.
Astro is a private broadcasting network, while UnifiTV is a television streaming service owned by Malaysia’s telecommunications provider Telekom.
The raids were carried out in cooperation with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Huzir said.
Computers seized in the raid will be sent to the commission for analysis, he said.
Police recorded witness statements that will be sent to the Attorney General’s office as part of the investigation, he added.
Al Jazeera immediately condemned the raid, saying it followed global condemnation of Malaysia’s treatment of undocumented migrant workers during the lockdown. The media outlet said it viewed the investigation as an attack not only on itself but on press freedom as a whole.
“Al Jazeera calls on the Malaysian authorities to cease this criminal investigation into our journalists,” said Giles Trendle, managing director of Al Jazeera English.
Trendle described the raid on the Malaysia bureau and the seizing of computers as a “troubling escalation” in the authorities’ crackdown on media freedom.
“This shows the lengths they are prepared to go to to try to intimidate journalists,” he added.
On July 3, Al Jazeera’s “101 East” current affairs program aired the documentary on the plight of Malaysia’s undocumented migrant workers under a movement control order imposed by the government.
Three weeks later, Mohamad Rayhan Kabir, a Bangladeshi national interviewed for the program, was arrested. Authorities said he would be “deported and blacklisted from entering Malaysia forever.”
Amnesty Malaysia also condemned the police raids, calling for migrant rights and freedom of expression to be protected.
“The government’s crackdown on migrants and refugees, as well as those who speak up in their defense, is meant to silence and intimidate, and should be condemned,” Amnesty said.


Manchester bomber came to security service’s attention 18 times

Updated 55 min 29 sec ago

Manchester bomber came to security service’s attention 18 times

  • The security service had been informed twice of Abedi’s intentions to travel to Syria and his pro-Daesh extremist views
  • Abedi also visited convicted terrorist Abdalraouf Abdallah in British prisons twice

LONDON: The man responsible for the bombing of Manchester Arena in 2017, Salman Abedi, came to the attention of the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security service, MI5, at least 18 times, including for his links to Daesh fundraisers, UK daily The Times reported on Thursday.
The public inquiry into the bombing heard that Abedi, 22, had been flagged after associating with six MI5 subjects of interest (SOI), including a man previously linked to terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, who was under investigation for helping fundamentalists travel to Syria.
Abedi had also traveled to Istanbul, a city through which terrorists often travel on their way to Daesh territory, a year before he killed 22 people as they left the Manchester Arena.
The security service had also been informed twice of Abedi’s intentions to travel to Syria and his pro-Daesh extremist views. The information was disregarded after he did not travel to the country.
MI5 was also aware of the fact that one of Abedi’s contacts had links to a senior Daesh figure, The Times reported.
Lawyers representing the Home Office said that the decisions made in Abedi’s case were mostly “reasonable and understandable” after the families of victims asked why the police and MI5 had failed to take action that might have prevented the attack.
Home Office lawyer Cathryn McGahey said that the bomber came to MI5’s attention in 2010 and was made an SOI in 2014 because of his links to a Daesh recruiter. The case was closed that same year because there was “no intelligence indicating that he posed a threat to national security,” The Times reported.
The security service admitted that information had come to its attention in mid-2016 that led it to consider reopening the case, but a meeting to consider the step was scheduled on a date after the attack had taken place.
The bomber had also appeared on MI5’s radar on other occasions for his links to suspects affiliated with Daesh in Libya and his multiple trips to that country. However, the security services decided that this was not suspicious behavior, as Abedi had family there. 
Abedi also visited convicted terrorist Abdalraouf Abdallah in British prisons twice, once in February 2015 and again in January 2017.
The inquiry also heard that intelligence was received by MI5 twice in the lead-up to the attack, but that it was dismissed as relating to “possibly innocent activity” or to “non-terrorist criminality.” While the intelligence was relevant to the Manchester attack, its significance was not fully appreciated.
McGahey said there were “enormous challenges in assessing intelligence, trying to work out what the risk is, who poses the greatest risk and seeking to predict what individuals are intending to do next,” and said that even if MI5 had taken different decisions in the months before the attack it still may not have stopped Abedi from carrying out the bombing.